Citizenship after Death

Stephen - Tumwater, Washington
Entered on February 15, 2008

The true test of citizenship is loyalty. There are so many ways in which individuals can express their loyalty, but the most courageous one of all is serving in the military. Being a solider is the highest sacrifice for loyalty, it is an open confession of one’s love to a country. But imagine sacrificing your life for a country which doesn’t recognize you as its citizen! Many immigrants (alien soldiers) serving in the United States Army are true loyalties and heroes. Unfortunately, many are not citizens and some do not become until after their demise—the so-called posthumous citizenship.

My son is an alien soldier in the US army; he was born and raised in Uganda, Africa. When he was a junior at the University of Washington, Seattle, he decided to join the US army. He is now a sergeant in the 82nd airborne, North Carolina—hoo-lah! When he decided to join the army, the whole family was very supportive of his decision. Our support has never been shaken by the illogical political or military actions, not even the sleepless nights during his long deployment in Iraq. When he graduated from basic training we maximized our credit cards to attend his graduation in Kentucky, Fort Knox.

My son has been in the service for over three years. Although his contract expires in less than a year, he intends to enlist for another four years. Unfortunately, my son is not yet a citizen, and he is not alone. There are a lot of alien soldiers serving in the US army all around the world who are not citizens. I wonder what an alien soldier says when a citizen soldier declares, “I am dying for my country.” The only response from an alien soldier would be: “I am dying to be incarnated as an American citizen.” This is absurd and a mockery to all alien soldiers in the services. Many Americans shy away from this noble duty, yet the alien soldiers who courageously decide to serve are let to wait for years and some die in combat before they are made citizens. What more can our children offer to this country to prove their loyalty?

Regularly, I read about alien soldiers dying in the war and how fast they are made citizens thereafter. For example, Marine Gunnery Sergeant, Joseph Menus, 33 from the Philippines who died in combat in Iraq before becoming a citizen; Lance Cpl. Jesus A. Suarez del Solar, 20, from Escondido, Mexico died in Iraq before becoming a citizen; Marine Cpl. Jose Garibay, 21, from Mexico died before becoming a citizen; Fredrick Kendell, 21 from Trinidad died in combat before becoming a citizen; and Juan Alcantara, 22, a native of the Dominican Republic died in Iraq during his three-month extension of his tour of duty before becoming a citizen. The list is endless. Ironically, after Alcantara’s death, U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y arranged a posthumous naturalization ceremony in New York.

After Kendell’s death (!), Senator Barbara Boxer of California introduced a legislation that would rush the posthumous citizenship process for families of green card holding veterans. Where is the honor in granting the dead citizenship or recognizing their families after their loss? Why not introduce a bill that guarantees automatic citizenship to men and women who join the United States Army before they die? Citizenship should be automatically awarded on the date of graduation from the basic training. The military oath should be taken concurrently with the oath of citizenship.

The illegal immigrant issue is on the forefront of both the Democrat and Republican party with a possibility of resurrecting a contentious debate whether to grant illegal immigrants amnesty. Regrettably, there is no debate about automatically granting citizenship to the legal-alien soldiers and their families serving in the military. It is ironic that politicians in Washington are interested in awarding privileges to immigrants who break the law than awarding honor to those who serve to protect the borders and the freedoms of this country. This is illogical and goes to shows the backward thinking of our leaders.

Once the alien soldiers put on the insignias of the US army they automatically become citizens in the eyes of everyone, including the enemy. Alien soldiers owe allegiance to no other country, other than the one they are willing to die for—the United States. In my opinion, joining the army is a compelling reason for awarding citizenship to alien soldiers who are willing to die for this country.